What Happens If an Ebola Case Lands at JFK?

Last Saturday, New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport started conducting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's enhanced Ebola screening. JFK became the first out of five U.S. airports, including Washington-Dulles, Newark Liberty, Chicago-O'Hare, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta international airports, to begin the special screening exercise. The discovery that Amber Vinson -- the second Texas nurse who contracted Ebola -- was allowed to board a commercial airliner from Ohio to Texas while running a fever begs an obvious question for New Yorkers: What happens if an infected passenger arrives at JFK?More »

The Port Authority is Fully Aware That LaGuardia Sucks, Joe Biden

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Biden contemplates going to the airport.
Earlier this week, Vice President Joe Biden visited adorable proto-city Philadelphia, where he talked about the importance of rebuilding the nation's infrastructure. Mostly, though, he bagged on LaGuardia Airport, noting, accurately, that it's dirty and old and filled with unsettling, yellow-tinted flooring and ancient, clanking baggage claims, like something out of the beginning of an airport-themed Saw movie.

"I've traveled 800,000 miles since being Vice President," he told the crowd. "If I blindfolded someone and took them at two o'clock in the morning into the airport in Hong Kong and said, 'Where do you think you are?,' they'd say, 'This must be America. It's a modern airport. If I blindfolded you and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York, you'd think, "I must be in some third-world country."

"I'm not joking," he added, when polite, nervous laughter rippled though the room. (And actually, Joe Biden merrily blindfolding someone in the dead of night and dragging them to the world's various airports to prove a point about infrastructure does sound possible, now that he mentions it.)

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The JFK AirTrain Will Have Very Unreliable Service for Six Weeks

Photo Credit: Pro-Zak via Compfight cc
For those of you in the international jet set, this is surely raw news: The JFK AirTrain is going to have intermittent service for the next six weeks. The Port Authority is shutting down the tracks at various times over the fall to make necessary repairs to the tracks.

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JetBlue Refuses to Let Hindu Man Board Flight During Ramadan, Concerned About His "Disposition"

Air travel has become such a nightmare that it's hard to muster any surprise about the hassles and indignities travelers face on a regular basis.

Excruciatingly long lines, invasive pat-downs, awkward luggage inspections, delays, cancelations--and, oh yeah, racial profiling--are all pretty much accepted as par for the course.

Aditya Mukerjee, who lives and works in New York and is Hindu, not Muslim, wrote about a particularly awful experience he had at JFK recently in blog post titled "Don't Fly During Ramadan."

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Bill de Blasio Wants to Ban Saudi Arabian Airlines From American Airports over Their No-Israeli Policies. I Call BS.

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Here's a little morsel of insanity for your Tuesday morning: New York City Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio is trying to yank Saudi Arabian Airlines' right to land at U.S. airports over its policy of not allowing Israeli citizens to board, starting with JFK. The director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines, Khalid Al-Melhem, shot back at de Blasio, insisting that it is merely the lack of diplomatic relations between the two countries that is behind the policy. Al-Melhem's claim that discrimination isn't behind the ban is bullshit, but so is de Blasio's outrage.

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Relax, Holiday Travelers, JFK Airport Security Guards Call Off Their Strike

Diana Eliazov
Prince Jackson announced last night that the JFK security strike has been called off.
If you're planning on flying in or out of JFK over the next few days, the rumblings of an imminent strike by contracted security guards at the airport starting scheduled to start tomorrow might have given you some concern.

(Alternately, even if you weren't doing holiday flying, the idea that the people responsible for airport safety make poverty wages, don't get sick days, and often lack adequate training and equipment might also have given you some concern.)

Either way, you can breathe a little easier, as the security officers have announced that they're calling off the strike after the Port Authority intervened.

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JFK Airport Security Guards Vote to Strike December 20

Diana Eliazov
Prince Jackson is one of the airport security guards who voted to strike.
Employees of two security contractors at JFK airport voted this afternoon to go on strike December 20 if their employers don't come to the table and address at least some of their complaints.

The timing of the strike, near the peak of the holiday travel season, could seriously snarl traffic out of JFK. It would be difficult for the contractors, Air Serv and Global Elite, to hire replacement workers, since it can take weeks and months for required security checks to go through.

The employees aren't members of a union, but they are backed by the Service Employees International Union 32BJ.

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JFK Airport Security Guards Threaten to Strike

Diana Eliazov
Prince Jackson is a security guard at JFK's Delta terminals, where his employer, Air Serv, pays him $8 an hour.
A year after the Voice first wrote about the struggle of security guards at New York airports to earn a living wage, the guards are escalating their tactics.

Tomorrow at 2:30, roughly 300 security contractors at JFK will vote on whether to go on strike December 20th, just in time to completely scramble airport operations during the holiday rush.

Two hundred of the contractors work for Air Serv, a Georgia-based company owned by Frank Argenbright, a man with a long history of cutting corners in airport security. Argenbright started Air Serv in 2002, after his previous company, Argenbright Security, was effectively sunk by an impressively lengthy string of scandals -- culminating on the morning of September 11, 2001, when Argenbright employees waved through two soon-to-be plane hijackers even though they'd set off a metal detector.

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Woman Gets Through Security At JFK With Dagger In Her Bag

Well, this is heartening terrifying news for anyone who plans on traveling through JFK in the near future. A woman got through security in Terminal 5 with a dagger in her bag, the New York Post reported. Nope, TSA people, you weren't hallucinating à la Macbeth. It was an actual antique dagger, which the woman, 26-year-old Gabrielle Olsen of Washington Heights, told police was given to her by her father for protection.

And it's not like Olsen hadn't caught the TSA's eye. Before the TSA noticed the dagger they confiscated a bottle of liquid from Olsen. Then -- after she passed through the checkpoint -- they noticed the pointy thing on "a screening-machine X-ray."

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Sen. Chuck Schumer Wants to Stop TSA's Inappropriate Behavior

You know how annoying it is when you have to take off your shoes and your belt at the airport and then security touches you, and you just feel kind of uncomfortable? Well, Sen. Chuck Schumer feels your pain, and he hopes to make it a lot easier for passengers to complain.

With a new legislation proposal, Schumer is responding to some incidents that were actually a bit more serious than an uncomfortable touch. In December, three elderly women came forward with claims that they were strip-searched by Transportation Security Administration officers at JFK airport -- and recent reports allege that TSA officials have inappropriately harassed women passing through security.

Let's take Lenore Zimmerman, for example. She's a tiny, 85-year-old Long Island grandmother who says she was brought into a private room and forced to take off her clothes on her way to a flight to Fort Lauderdale.

Or Ruth Sherman, 88, who said that TSA agents made her strip so they could inspect her colostomy bag.

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